Let’s finish up on Romans 8 today and wrap this up next week. This is a huge topic, as you can tell. Honestly, the more I dig into this, the deeper I want to go. Next week we’ll be talking about the implications of what we have learned. The “so what?” All this knowledge will make a huge difference in the way you look at the world and the way you share the gospel. The bottom line is that when we properly understand and set our attention to the gospel, you simply will not be able to contain yourself. You will WANT to share the good news with all the people you meet. Why? Because Jesus is bigger and vastly more important than anything else. Evangelism won’t be something to dread. It’s not like public speaking. No, it’s nothing like that at all! It’s simply sharing this incredible story as it unfolds in your own life. It is a pleasure and a privilege to share the gospel – once we understand it.
But I get ahead of myself. Let’s return to the great guarantee. We left off learning that Jesus is now in heaven. Doing what? Interceding for us. Yes, he also preparing a place for us (John 14:2). He is also praying on our behalf. Here’s the rest of Paul’s exhortation. Listen if you can hear his voice boom as his excitement grows.
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Stop. These are things that other people can do to us. Indeed, this was happening to Christians in those days. Here’s news for you, they are happening to Christians today, although we wouldn’t know it in our safe USA. Persecution should be of no surprise because, as Paul points out, it was prophesized.
v. 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
Yes, that indeed may be how the world eventually treats any one of us. However, we are not to be afraid of this. Paul goes on.
v. 37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height or depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is coming from a man who knows a thing or two about what can happen to you when you won’t shut your mouth.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
v. 11:23b-27 with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
And guess who kept going back for more? Paul. And all the other apostles. They all knew they would most likely end up dead because they shared the gospel. Indeed, almost all were killed. Even so, they were not deterred. Why? Because they had a perspective that was focused on Jesus. They knew who Jesus is.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are see are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Philippians 1:18b-24 Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
Is this some special gift given to a select few? Nope. God probably won’t send you to hostile lands, although he might. Most likely, he will keep you right where you are. But you know as well as I do that there are times when we get glimpses of what Paul is talking about. That fire starts to glow inside of us. Sometimes, it even starts to burn hot! It is then we find ourselves telling others about Jesus, not out of duty but out of sheer pleasure of knowing him.
My friends, my mission through these pages is to help myself see how incredible God’s mercy and kindness has been, and is, to me. I preach the gospel to myself in my writings so that I may enjoy the overwhelming love of Jesus. If I don’t, I forget. Even though I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me, the cares of this world soon wear me down; and I forget. So, I need to continually preach the gospel to myself. When I do, I gain that fire in my belly that Paul (and all the others) write about.
John 7:37-38 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Jeremiah 20:9 If I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
Incredible! Both water and fire. Do you want some of that? I hope so! You can have all you want, whenever you want. God is always there to build you up. It’s simply a matter of us getting out of his way. And that’s the other reason I write this, to encourage you all to do the same.
Father, keep teaching me. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers